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Fort Myers, Florida is perfect this time of year. The temperature averages in the 70s and there is a breeze at all times. When in this area, you are close to Fort Myers Beach, or Sanibel Island, some of the nicest beaches in the country. It doesn’t have the tourist congestion Orlando or Miami has, which is always a plus. So with all the positives, why would the Red Sox think of moving away?
Since 1993, The Red Sox have made Fort Myers their home. They play at the City of Palms park near the downtown area. It’s a nice minor-league park, but nothing to brag about. Their practice fields are down the road, which is inconvenient. Narrow roads and a lot of construction makes the drive a difficult one. It holds 8,000 people, which is nice for a spring training facility, but the Sox want more.
In 2009, Boston owner John Henry looked for a way to opt out of his lease with the city if they were not granted a new stadium. The current lease is until 2019, but Fort Myers city officials did not want to cause tension so immediately began brainstorming new locations. Fort Myers makes a lot of money on fans who come down to watch Sox games and the Twins, who play in South Fort Myers. Losing the Red Sox to Sarasota or Arizona was not going to be an option.
Cross-town rivals, the Twins have an excellent facility in Hammond Stadium. The Stadium itself in a mini-ballpark featuring a grandiose entrance. It is located in the Lee Country Sports Complex and surrounded by five smaller fields for practice. It is the ultimate convenience for a team on the road and the Red Sox want the same thing.
The City of Fort Myers has found a new location right off the major highway, I-75. Original plans were to relocate near Florida Gulf Coast University, but John Henry wanted a separate location, but would keep the college land as a backup.
Expected is an 11,000 capacity facility that is being thought of as a mini-Fenway Park, complete with it’s own little green monster. It would be a vast upgrade from the current facility and give the Red Sox all the ammenities they would need in a Spring Training facility. Construction is expected to being this year and should everything go well, the Red Sox will open the facility in 2012. Upon completion, the Red Sox would be willing to sign a new lease keeping the Red Sox in Fort Myers for another 30 years.
As for its former home, there has been talk of the Orioles turning it into their new nest, among other teams.